‘In Piper and Alex, I’d found a mouthpiece for my own desires’

The sound stage for Orange, where we proudly employ what has to be at least 64% of lesbians in the New York City metro area, is not a place where you can shy away from women or sexuality. And if you’re trying to, Lea Delaria (Big Boo) will nip it in the bud by inviting you to sit on her lap.

Accordingly, I was nervous about the first love scene I’d written for Alex and Piper. I’d loved writing it, loved watching a tenderness emerge in their relationship where passion always seemed to be the ruling principle, but by that time, I was so deep in my own self-doubt that I constantly felt like a fraud. I was sure it was bleeding into my writing. How could it not? I was married to a man, but I wasn’t straight.

“I heart you.”

“I heart you? Is that like ‘I love you’ for pussies?”

As I watched Taylor Schilling and Laura film the scene, one of our producers (as it happened, a gay woman) tapped me on the shoulder. She pointed at the screen and gave me a thumb’s up. It was a small gesture, but my first step toward feeling accepted and quietly accepting myself. In Piper and Alex, I’d found a mouthpiece for my own desires and a glimmer of what my future could look like.

—Lauren Morelli, in an essay about realizing she was gay while writing for ‘Orange Is the New Black’ from Identities.Mic.

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Photo: Lomorelli, Instagram